Waste not want not

Hello, I am Candice and I am an addict.

It seems I have been in denial but now I see it. The realization began when undertaking a first quarter review of my 2009 goals, keen to monitor how I am doing so far. The last three months actually reflect a mixed bag of success and ‘oops could do better’ moments, and I spent a little time looking to see where I may have become distracted from my goals and what occurred incrementally in the quarter. I also pause to reset the goals that I remain committed to for the rest of the year.

Next I take stock of how I said I would ‘be’ in 2009, again a pretty mixed bag of success but happily more on track than not, and I am struck yet again about my intention to ‘unclutter and not be wasteful’ and begin to mentally search where I may not have exercised this fully. I stand in the cottage fluttering my fingers as if I can’t quite place something and then find myself being pulled into the kitchen and staring into the chilly soft glow of my refrigerator. My instincts were correct I find it very cluttered.

While the fridge seems pretty full, it seems that it has little to do with items that we can actually eat. The refrigerator from bottom up has a deli drawer, two side by side crispers followed by three shelves. As a Brit I have no concept of what one uses a deli drawer for, but I discovered some years ago that it was perfect for housing candles, which when chilled last longer, so needless to say that draw now has a job which it does it very well.

The right hand crisper is occupied by one lonely but large parsnip and the crisper on the left has 4 bottles of wine rather precariously crammed into it. The shelf above that has a tupperware box half filled with yesterday’s breakfast kedgeree and a few sticky circles from former leaky pots that once sat there. The glass level above that, is full of beer on one side and on the other sits three flat packets of parma ham, Hickory Bacon and Proscuitto respectively, an egg, two stick of butter, two yoghurts, and one flour tortilla and given I don’t eat meat I begin to wonder what’s for dinner?

But on the top shelf…well, there my (or should I say our) addiction becomes apparent. It is a condiment addicts dream. Now I would argue that this is an addiction of a nation, we Brits just seem to have a predilection for ‘something on the side’, it does however seem that our household has taken that to a whole new level. Under dressings we have – a Balsamic Basil Vinaigrette, an Organics Goddess Tahini affair, Girards champagne dressing and a Trader Joe’s Balsamic Vinaigrette. There are Olives, some from the Santa Barbara Olive company and both ‘Martini’ and Blue Cheese olives, Pickles… mmmm.. pickles, in the form of Cornichons, Piccalilli, Sweet Midget Pickles, Branston original pickle and Haywards Pickle Onions. There is a jar of ominous looking relish and our array of chutneys – Major Grey’s, Mango Ginger, Cilantro and another ‘Asian Passage’ Sweet Ginger variety. The door of the fridge houses the usual suspects of Mayonnaise, Ketchup, Heinz Salad Cream, HP and tartare sauce, and I notice that we have five types of mustard ranging from French’s classic yellow and an Organic Dijon through to three types of Grey Poupon, even as an addict I am beginning to question what we may have been thinking. Then I spy some ‘random’ condiments, a Honey smoked BBQ sauce, a tube of wasabi, a small jar of Ponzu, some delicious mint sauce, a Dalmatia fig spread and burnt fig jam for our cheeses and the small tubs of organic apple sauce just waiting to be dolloped on the next batch of roasted potatoes. We have in fact 34 jars and squeezy bottles of condiment items in our refrigerator, not counting the sachets of soy sauce that we seem to throw into one of the door receptacles just because ‘you never know when you might need them’, well if you ever do we have 69 packets of them.

Now you may well be thinking, is this such a big deal? Well maybe not, 34 jars, I can handle that, I am in control. In fact I even had a bit of a purge and a few jars of somewhat out of date condiments did find themselves being emptied, cleaned and added to the recycling, but just as the refrigerator door made that light little suction noise as it seals itself closed I look across the room to all our seasonings (which technically, I believe other than salt and pepper, are not to be confused with condiments) and with them, there on the kitchen island, also sits the lazy susan guiltily filled with vinegars, oils, hot sauces and dare I say, more mustard. Ok, this household may have a bit of a problem and it’s less to do with all the condiments that we do have and more to do with fact that having been through the condiment audit I am now acutely aware that we are out of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce.

On a serious note, well as serious as one can be when one is writing a random post about addiction to condiments, Oprah recently ran a series of episodes about living a more simple life, not getting caught up in the idea that we need the next best thing or ‘more’ of what we already have, and to be mindful of what it is we are wasting each week. The segment that most caught my eye was the piece on throwing our perishables away. The challenge is that whenever you throw out a perishable item that wasn’t touched, or where there is a lot of it left but it’s no longer edible, jot down how much it cost you. Then after a week or so add up the cost of all the food you have thrown away and imagine they are dollars, how much money are you putting in the trash each week? It is a powerful image and I get it, apparently even Oprah saves her morning toast if it isn’t all eaten! What shopping and eating behaviors would it be beneficial to change in your household?

So in this short post I think I have made it to about Step 5 of ‘The Program’ –
Step 1. I admitted we are powerless over condiments — that our refrigerator had become unmanageable.
Step 2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves (Oprah) could restore us to sanity.
Step 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of Mother Nature who provides us with fine tasting goodies with no need for additional enhancement.
Step 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory – Marc PLEASE bring back some Lea Perrins.
Step 5. Admitted to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

THANK YOU ALL…

I commit to there being far less condiment purchases in our future and many less hard earned dollars in the trash….
Candice

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